Habemus Papam, but any respectum?
I'm not a Catholic, but in watching the coverage of John Paul II, the Inter Regnum, the Conclave, and now the election of Benedict XVI, I can tell you that much of it I found offensive.
The reason is that I find that most of the media has no real respect for the Catholic Church, its doctrines, or its processes. Not only that, but they actively seem to be searching for Catholics that also dis-respect their religion and its teachings. Most of them were respectful enough while JP II was in his agony. However once he passed, in between the lines you could see the problems coming.
First, they (the media) set the tone during the Inter Regnum (between reigns). Here are some of the things I heard and read - "The next pope will have a difficult time filling JP II's shoes." "Church needs to liberalize and let women be preachers." "JP II alienated women, made them feel like second class." "Many Catholics around the world a want more progressive church." "Pope and GW Bush disagreed on many issues." "JP II scolded Bush during visit." "Church need to liberalize or it will disintegrate."
Next, they tried to handicap the papal election. We were inundated by profiles on all the cardinal "front runners". This is absolutely ridiculous. "An African pope?" "Pope from South America likely." "Ratzinger front runner." This coverage wanted to make me scream. First off, the Catholic Church has a tested process for choosing their leader, and I think we'd all do better to respect it. The Cardinals meet and pray. They are barred from politicking. They discuss, and then vote. They do this in private, without outside influence. However, almost nobody in the media believes this could actually happen. But it does, and it did.
Also, media pundits all over and from every channel and outlet all tried to tell us what the Catholic church needed to do with itself. I find this amazing - that anyone with a media job or anyone with a doctorate has the right to tell an organization that has existed continuously for 2000 years what it "needs" to do with itself. Are they serious? Do you know why the Church dissallows outside influence from its processes? Because everytime an outside influence comes in, the church ends up doing something bad. Here are some examples: The Vast Temporal Powers of the Pope, the Inquisition(s), the Crusades, allowing States to have Veto power on specific cardinals, and the list goes on... So, media, stay out of it! Just report, let us decide.
Once the pope was elected today, he got about a 5 minute grace period. "Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger has been elected, and the people are rejoicing in St. Peter's...but not everyone is rejoicing...let's go to Cokie Roberts for more on this controversial conservative new pontiff." Come on! The left media went nuts about the new Pope's moral certainty. They were all about bashing his beliefs and saying they were too rigid for most catholics. This also flabbergasts me. THATS WHAT A CHURCH IS. The church tells you what to believe. If you don't believe it, then don't belong to it. And furthermore, I hate it when they go searching for believers in the catholic faith that disagree on one or more issues. Then they blow it out of porportion for everyone to see. I'm not catholic, but I do know this about their Church: What the Pope says goes. If you don't like it, tough. So much of the denomination is based on this! If you are a Catholic, then you believe that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ and the Successor of Peter, that he is infallible while sitting "ex cathedra" (from the throne). So for news people to go around just to find controversy serves no purpose except to incite dissent among its members. The Church is a top-down theocratic monarchy, not a bottoms-up constitutional democratic theocracy.
For many reasons, lately I have become fascinated with the Catholic Church. I've been a Christian all my life, but lately I've been seriously thinking of finding a denomination again - and am considering the Catholic Church. There is so much misconception out there about it, and most of it I've found comes from being brought up in a protestant church. Don't get me wrong, I love my protestant roots and its made me the Christian I am today. I don't know what I'd do without that foundation. But lately I've been thinking about needing something more. That "more" might just be the Church. For brevity's sake, the main reason has to do with the teaching authority of the church compared to the protestant denominations. Lately, I've been thinking that Christianity has no business being a democracy, which just about every protestant denomination is. If you want to discuss it with me, I'm more than open to it. Please send me an e-mail. Like I said, I'm searching right now, not joining anything yet.
So, in closing - Yay for the Catholics and their new Pope. Boo to the people who have no business telling the church what to do.